A Day in the Life: Beyoncé’s Backup Dancer, Ebony Williams
Ebony Williams has your dream job.
After a decade with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Williams is now one of the backup dancers getting in formation on Beyoncé’s world tour. (She’s also one of Bey’s backers in the infamous “Single Ladies” video.) It’s a marked change of pace for the Dorchester native, but one she says is “a dream come true.”
“I think she’s a really phenomenal woman,” Williams says. “She is something to look up to. She’s inspirational.”
The tour takes Williams home to Boston tonight, where she says she hopes to squeeze in visits to her old stomping grounds, the Boston Conservatory and the Deborah Mason School of Dance, and plenty of time with her mother. Here, she gives us a glimpse into a day in her life on tour:
Breakfast: As soon as the tour arrives in a new city, Williams seeks out some breakfast. She says she always has fruit—usually watermelon or pineapple—and often has an egg scramble, turkey sausage, and toast. “I am someone that needs hearty meals,” she says.
Morning: She tries to sneak in two or three hours of sleep in her hotel room.
Mid-morning: “I usually try to find a studio or something in each city and just go and play in the studio and dance,” she says. Sometimes, she’ll hit the hotel gym and go on the elliptical. She also seeks out a massage therapist in each city, sometimes booking appointments for up to two hours. “I’m all about that massage,” she says.
Post-massage: Williams stretches and does a little Pilates.
Lunch: Something on the lighter side, usually a sandwich or salad.
Afternoon: “I try to explore each city that I’m in,” she says. “Even if I just go and walk around the hotel area and go to a park somewhere and sit in the grass for a little while and collect my thoughts. I think it’s really important to do that, to center yourself.”
Dinner: A typical dinner is red meat with potatoes and salad, or fish.
Pre-show: Williams find a place to center herself before each show. “I think it’s important to find time and meditate and get ready before a show,” she says. “I get nervous before I perform, every single time.”
Warm-up: After that, she finishes her makeup, warms up, stretches, and has a snack. “I always have fruit just before I go on,” she laughs. “I put it in a cup, and then I bring it with me backstage, so during the performance when I get a little hungry or I feel like I’m low on energy, I slap pineapple in my mouth and then I continue.”
Showtime: Time for the concert. “It’s always surreal being on a huge stage with lots of people screaming,” she says. “You always know that there’s some kid that’s there looking at you saying, ‘Oh my god, I want to be there one day.’ It’s a beautiful thing.”